Chris Woakes says that England’s unprecedented recent success in white-ball cricket has given them the belief that “they can win from any position”.
Woakes was instrumental in England’s stunning fightback in the second ODI on Sunday, claiming three quick wickets at the back-end of the run-chase, including both of Australia’s set batsmen, Marnus Labuschagne and Aaron Finch, to set in motion a stunning collapse of 7 for 32.
In closing the game out for a 24-run win, England not only squared the series with Wednesday’s decider to come, they kept alive their hopes of an unbeaten record across formats this summer, and maintaining their perfect run in home ODI series that dates back to 2015.
“Over the last five years we’ve earned that respect, I think,” Woakes said. “Across that period, teams have realised that we can win from any position and the game is not done until they get over the line.
“We’ve found that in this series and also in the T20 series, so we’ve earned that respect. Within the dressing room we’ve got that character and the belief that we can win from any position.”
Speaking on the eve of the series, Eoin Morgan had welcomed the prospect of three tricky batting surfaces at Emirates Old Trafford, as England begin to adapt their style of play from the no-holds-barred batting force that racked up a world-record 481 for 6 on Australia’s last bilateral ODI visit in 2018, to the more rounded outfit that will have to defend their world title on India’s slow and low pitches in 2023.
And given the success of England’s bowlers on Sunday, first in chivvying their total to a defendable 231 for 9 with some calculated hitting from Tom Curran and Adil Rashid, and then in bowling Australia out for 207 in reply, Woakes was pleased with their early efforts to reinvent their game.
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“A few years ago we probably thought we could only win from a tricky position with the bat chasing, but now we feel like we can do it with the ball as well,” he said. “I don’t really see why that should change
“The other night was brilliant. A different role for us to play to come back and attack and take wickets rather than hold overs back for the death.
“It was a completely different game in comparison to a normal ODI so I’m really pleased how we pulled that back and took the attack to Australia and put them on the back foot. It was the only way we were going to win that game.
“We’re in a great position as a team. I think there have been times in this series where we feel we haven’t played our best cricket across the two games so hopefully we can put in a big performance and bring it all together in the last one, because there are areas of our game that haven’t been quite as sharp as we would like them to be.”
Whereas the second ODI was played on a used surface, a fresh pitch has been prepared for Wednesday’s day-nighter, which may change the way the two teams approach the contest.
“The first game, it was a bit two-paced but it was actually a pretty good wicket,” said Woakes. “By no means a 400 pitch but 280-290 was around par. The other day, it was used, so it took a little bit more spin, and it definitely slowed up as the game went on. Then the ball roughed up as well which mean a little bit of reverse on offer. It was tricky to bat on.
“The new wicket looks pretty good, pretty flat,” he added. “The boundary looks a bit shorter on one side so it’s definitely different to the last game, and the team which adapts quickly will probably come out on top.”
Given the extraordinary nature of their victory in the second game, England are now clear favourites to seal their series win, but Woakes was cautious when it was put to him that Australia’s mental fragilities had been exposed.
“We’ve been playing against Australia a hell of a lot over the last few years, and we’ve obviously got good records in white-ball against them recently, but we know how dangerous they can be.
“They’re obviously a good side,” he added. “They’ve shown how dangerous they can be a couple of occasions this summer but also last summer during the World Cup. We’ll take the positives from the last couple of games but also there are a few things we need to work on ourselves.”
One key factor could be the return of Steven Smith, who missed the first two games with concussion after taking a blow to the head during training. He was back in the nets on the eve of the match, and a final decision on his availability will be taken before the match.
“We are wary of the impact Steve Smith could have,” Woakes said. “We know he’s a world-class player and we’ve been on the receiving end of his performances a few times in the past.
“We know he can affect games but, at the same time, it can be tricky coming in with not much cricket under your belt and having to perform from ball one in a decider.
“We’ll prepare for him to play and if he does we have our plans for him and I think Australia would love to see him back.”
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